PhD candidates in Communication Science (political and corporate communication)

Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences – Amsterdam School of Communication Research

Publication date
26 April 2017
Level of education
Salary indication
€2,191 to €2,801 gross per month
Closing date
30 May 2017
38 hours per week
Vacancy number

The Amsterdam School of Communication Research (ASCoR) is the research institute in Communication Science at the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences, University of Amsterdam. ASCoR is looking for three PhD candidates for projects in Political Communication and/or Corporate Communication.

Project description

Project 1: Actors and frames in climate change communication

The public debate on global climate change is characterized by high levels of controversy between political, economic, civic, or non-governmental actors. Conceptually there are different types of conflict with varying impact on audiences, such as mere disagreement, actual conflict, or uncivil accusations. While previous research has focused on different types of conflict frames and related audience effects, these studies typically do not include the role of different actors. By taking a network perspective, this project will link actors and types of conflict frames and, by doing so, analyse patterns of deliberation and their effects on public engagement. This PhD project applies content analysis of traditional news media and social media as well as experimentation.

Project 2: On Behalf of the People

While populist politics is a well-known phenomenon in many European democracies, the communicative aspects of populism are still underexplored. However, the study of populist communication has never been more important, not only in light of the large-scale social, political, and economic turbulence, but also in light of recent populist backlashes against governments and the changing media environment. This project focuses on one of the most understudied corner stones of populist rhetoric: reference to the People. This communicative construction of the People includes appeals to the people, talking about the people, putting the people and their opinions first in political decisions, or symbolically and rhetorically coalescing with the people by talking about “we” and “us”. The project aims to study [1] how elites perceive and make reference to the People in their communication, [2] how the media construct the People in their reporting, and [3] what effects this has on citizens’ attitudes. It relies on face-to-face elite surveys, (automated) content analysis, and experimental research.

Project 3: Digital news consumption and its effects: how context, content, and consumer interact

This project analyses consumers in an online media ecosystem. It tackles the question how content features, consumer features, and context features interact in shaping news exposure and, ultimately, political interest and political participation. In particular, we analyse how consumers are directed to news via their social networks and via algorithmic news recommender systems. Both differ from traditional “one-size-fits-all” contexts (like reading a newspaper or visiting a news site) in that the consumer features (like ties or past behaviour) can potentially have a much more direct effect on what content one is exposed to. As a multi-method study, this project involves the analysis of online tracking data, a laboratory experiment, and a field experiment. Combining the insights of these, we aim to better understand news use and its effect in the evolving media landscape. It will contribute to the scientific and societal debate about the existence and consequences of echo chambers and filter bubbles, using networking theories and often ignored contextual factors. Furthermore, the project will test the influence of multiple predictors (consumer features and content features), which might together explain who is exposed to what kind of news. Such questions are of tremendous importance as citizens, especially younger adults, are increasingly and predominantly using online and social media to get informed about the world around them.

All candidates are expected to contribute to the overall project, do research, and publish on the basis of the research, culminating in a PhD dissertation.


The PhD candidate should:

  • hold a Research Master’s degree in communication science or equivalent qualifications. Candidates who are due to graduate before October 2017 are also welcome to apply. Research Masters from related fields such as political science, sociology and economics, are also welcome to apply, but might have to do some extra coursework to get acquainted with the field of communication science. Candidates who do not hold a Research Master degree or equivalent will be required to complete a transfer program prior to the project start date. A Research Master is a 2-year Master program with 30 EC of methodological coursework;
  • excel academically, as shown in the grade transcripts and curriculum vitae;
  • have a firm basis in research methods and data analysis;
  • have an excellent written and spoken command of English;
  • have excellent organizational skills;
  • have the ability and interest to work in a team.

For project 1, also: skills and/ or interest in methods of automated content analysis.

For project 2, also preferably knowledge of qualitative and quantitative research methods and a good command of Dutch.

For project 3, also preferably knowledge of Python and/or R or the willingness to learn these languages.

Further information

A detailed project description may be obtained from:

Questions about the project content should be addressed to:

Questions about the application procedure and other general questions should be addressed to:


The positions start in September/October 2017, and are initially for 1 year. Extension of the contract after the first year to a total of three years and two months is subject to satisfactory performance.

For PhD candidates, the gross monthly salary will be in accordance with the salary scales for PhD candidates at Dutch universities, i.e., ranging from €2,191 in the first year to €2,801 in the final year. Conditions are based on the Collective Labour Agreement of the Dutch Universities.

The positions are pending final financial approval. 

Job application

The deadline for applications is Tuesday May 30 2017. Please state vacancy number 17-221 in the subject line of your application, as we have multiple vacancies. To apply for this position, please send all your documents in a single PDF file by e-mail to

N.B. A complete application contains at least the following documents in English:

  • ASCoR PhD application form;
  • clear indication of Project number (1-2-3);
  • motivation letter;
  • curriculum vitae;
  • proof of your Master's degree, including grade transcripts. If you have not completed your degree at the time of application, please provide a statement from your supervisor confirming the expected date of completion of your degree;
  • an academic writing sample in English (e.g., journal article, Master's thesis).

No agencies please

Published by  University of Amsterdam